The Downtown Density Bonus Program (DDBP) was established in 2014 to promote a vibrant, dense, and pedestrian friendly downtown area while also encouraging the development of affordable housing and other community benefits. A downtown density bonus can be requested as part of a site plan review process (Web). This program allows developments in the downtown area to achieve greater height and density in exchange for providing a high quality building and streetscape as well as community benefits.

Program Requirements

As part of a site plan review process, program applicants must describe the proposed project, the request for additional density, and how the applicant proposes to meet the requirements of the Density Bonus Ordinance Program (Web). For projects seeking a downtown density bonus, a site plan permit will not be released until the program requirements have been met.

Gatekeeper Requirements

Applicants are advised to start with the License Agreement (Web) process before they start the rest of the Downtown Density Bonus process. There are three major processes that need to be completed to meet the requirements of the Downtown Density Bonus Program, and it is advisable to start the License Agreement process first so that the Great Streets approval and Site Plan (Web) processes can be completed in a timely way.

  1. Projects must provide a streetscape that meets Great Streets Program Requirements (Web).
  2. Applicants must commit to achieving a minimum two star rating under Austin Energy’s Green Building program (Web).
  3. Projects must be found to be substantially compliant with the City’s Urban Design Guidelines (PDF) and includes a presentation before the Design Commission (Web).

Community Benefits

In order to obtain the bonus area the applicant must provide community benefits. At least 50% of the bonus must be achieved by providing on-site affordable housing or by paying a development bonus fee into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Projects within the Rainey District of downtown have additional requirements. A complete list of benefits can be found in the Density Bonus Ordinance (Web).

Related Links

Land Use Review Division (Site and Subdivision Plans) (Web)

Downtown Austin Plan (Web)

City of Austin Urban Design (Web)